Sun Peaks’ favorite disabled racer Pramod “Promo” Thapa recently returned from his first International Paralympic Committee, or IPC, race of the year at Panorama where he stepped onto the top of the podium in super-G.
National team member and favourite Braydon Luscombe, an above knee amputee, crashed leaving the door wide open for Thapa to beat the rest of the field and take the win. Thapa was also fourth in the giant slalom, right behind the national team racers.
He opted out of the slalom because he hasn’t had a ton of time on his slalom skis and is struggling with them a little.
On that note, it’s a little crazy that the disabled skiers have to follow World Cup FIS rules when it comes to ski regulations and lengths. For example, because of his age Thapa has to race on men’s World Cup length skis, that is 165 centimetres for slalom, 185 cm for GS, 205 cm for super-G and 215 cm for downhill skis. If you’re a five foot tall, 104 pound ski racer with cerebral palsy, these lengths aren’t easy to navigate through a race course at speed.
I feel that for para athletes, the FIS should relax their rules. It becomes a question of safety. There absolutely have to be some regulations but the FIS able body rules shouldn’t just be adopted because it’s easier.
I think they should adopt the entry level FIS athlete rules where the kids can race on shorter, softer skis. It’s been proven time and time again that short, soft skis aren’t faster, so there’s no unfair advantage to running them. What it would mean is that racers with, for example, cerebral palsy or an amputation, would have the option of running skis that better suit their size and weight. It’s simply safer and it allows the para athletes to race with more confidence. It would make for better and safer competition. Not to mention it would be cheaper!
Thapa’s training hard for his next big event in Kimberly, B.C. at the end of January, he’s also going to school at Thompson Rivers University and working to raise money to pay for his ski racing. You can help him out by buying one of his calendars from Jardines at Sun Peaks or in Kamloops at Kix for Chix and other select businesses. Or if you simply want to sponsor or donate to a racer who has a huge heart and a fantastic spirit, contact me, I’ll set it up.
Until next month: ski hard, ski fast.